The newest trend for Tampa date nights? Indoor ax throwing

Axe Throwing Tampa is set to celebrate its grand opening with an axe-throwing tournament on Friday. [Courtesy of Axe Throwing Tampa]
Axe Throwing Tampa is set to celebrate its grand opening with an axe-throwing tournament on Friday. [Courtesy of Axe Throwing Tampa]
Published April 18, 2018

If bowling doesn't involve enough sharp objects for your liking and playing darts just isn't sufficiently evoking your inner lumberjack anymore, a new business in Tampa may have the solution.

Hurling axes across a room is perfect for date nights, family outings and corporate team building say the operators of Axe Throwing Tampa, which opened last week in Town 'N' Country.

It's the second indoor ax-throwing range to open in Tampa this year, after Raider Axe Lodge opened its doors in an industrial park off W Hillsborough Avenue in January. Both are following a national trend that migrated south from Canada and has seen indoor ax ranges do brisk business in Brooklyn, Austin, Philadelphia and Chicago.

The scoring is similar to darts. The lanes are fenced off and feature a big wooden target with a bullseye. Everyone gets training on how to throw safely and accurately.

"Our ax-pert will work with you. You'll be sticking axes in about 10 minutes," said John Collins, who owns Axe Throwing Tampa with his wife Kristi. "You'll probably leave with at least one bullseye in your first session."

Three years ago, they opened Can You Escape?, one of Tampa Bay's first escape rooms, after falling in love with the then-new entertainment concept on a trip to Europe. Now there are Escape Rooms all over Tampa Bay.

They discovered axe-throwing on a recent trip to Toronto.

"You're going to see ax throwing places popping up everywhere pretty soon," John Collins said. "It's for everyone, men, women, 8 to 80. ... Bachelorette parties. Divorce parties. ... Our corporate groups really like it. They seem to work out some frustrations. We're even starting up a league."

Collins has already heard of new places opening in Orlando and Miami.

But is it safe?

Carlito Williams, 26, who opened the 1,600-square-foot Raider Axe Lodge with business partner Fred Cunningham, 29, after they'd both finished their service in the Marines, said that is the question he hears most.

"The worst thing that has happened here is a splinter," Williams said. "Ax-throwing places have been open for years now, and you won't hear a story of anyone being seriously injured."

And unlike bowling or darts, there's no beer allowed, although Raider Axe Lodge will let you bring in food.

Williams said business has been good so far and they've stayed busy with minimal advertising.

"It's kind of like Fight Club right now. We're off the beaten path, and we don't have a sign or anything," Williams said. "But people definitely find us. They go and do this other places, then they come back to Tampa and Google it to see if there's a place here."

Axe Throwing Tampa is holding a tournament for its grand opening event on Friday. The top prize will be tickets to the Kenny Chesney concert at Raymond James Stadium the following day. People can register at

Do NOT try this at home.... BUT you can test your axe wielding skills at Raider Axe Lodge! Check out this #TalesofTampa to get an inside look at this unique sport!